Originally released on 1964, Christo Redentor was a song performed by the American jazz trumpeter, composer, bandleader and educator, Donald Byrd. An active musician for nearly 60 years, Donald Byrd was known as one of the only bebop jazz musicians who successfully pioneered the funk and soul genres while remaining very much a jazz artist. As a bandleader, Byrd is notable for his influence on the early career of Herbie Hancock, with whom he performed with throughout the mid 50’s; also playing alongside an array of other leading jazz musicians such as John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and Theolonious Monk!
Today’s song appears on A New Perspective, Donald Byrd’s 1964 record that featured a whole gospel choir and a septet consisting of himself on trumpet, tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, guitarist Kenny Burrell and pianist Herbie Hancock. Released on the Blue Note label, the album is one of his better-known offerings, identified as a milestone in his career with Christo Redentor described as a “memorable effort that is innovative in its own way.”
In 2017 A New Perspective was ranked at number 194 on Pitchfork’s list of the “200 Best Albums of the 1960s,” which comes as no surprise as the LP boasts a beautiful balance of soul and jazz, offering the likes of me the opportunity to enjoy the more soulful side of what I can sometimes find a hard-going genre. In an article I read about Donald Byrd he had this to say of the project:
“I mean this album seriously. Because of my own background, I’ve always wanted to write an entire album of spiritual-like pieces. The most accurate way I can describe what we were all trying to do is that this is a modern hymnal. In an earlier period, the New Orleans jazzmen would often play religious music for exactly what it was – but with their own jazz textures and techniques added. Now, as modern jazzmen, we’re also approaching this tradition with respect and great pleasure.”